The Star Wars Resistance crew talks timeline, diversity, and character motivations

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We sat down with the executive producers and cast of Star Wars Resistance to discuss the timeline, representation, and the different motivations driving certain characters throughout the series.

Star Wars Resistance is the latest animated adventure show from Lucasfilm and Disney. The story follows Kazuda Xiono, a pilot in his early 20s who’s been tasked by Poe Dameron to go on an undercover mission to spy on the growing threat of the First Order aboard a massive aircraft refueling platform known as the Colossus.

Before the premiere kicks off on October 7, we had the opportunity to talk with Executive Producers Athena Portillo, Justin Ridge, and Brandon Auman as well as voice actors Christopher Sean (Kazuda Xiono), Donald Faison (Hype Fazon), Bobby Moynihan (Orka), and Suzie McGrath (Tam Ryvora) during a series of roundtable interviews.

To start off, the series is set 6 months before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but we were curious to know why it wasn’t set 5, 10, or even 15 years before the 2015 feature film.

“It was always decided that it was going to be 6 months before The Force Awakens so that we could have some overlap,” said Auman, who’s also the head writer for the series. “Also, it gets a little hard for the younger fans to kind of wrap their heads around. If it was say 15 years before, then it’s a very nebulous timeline… The fact that we’ve got Poe and BB-8 from the very beginning lets kids and any fan of any age know immediately this is the new movies, this is where it’s going to take place. It’s just easier, I think, to wrap your head around this particular time period.”

Ridge added, “It’s a chance for us to get a little insight as to what’s happening before The Force Awakens. You know, what is the First Order up to? And how does that lead into the movie, Episode VII?”

Overall, the series is going to have a more lighthearted approach. The heavy and intense conflict isn’t going to be present at the start of the series, because the war between the Resistance and the First Order hasn’t truly started yet. When the war does arrive, however, the good guys are going to need pilots.

One pilot who’s willing to answer the call is Kazuda. He’s got the skills to fly and the desire to help, like most protagonists in the Star Wars galaxy. Most importantly, he’s an Asian character voiced by an Asian American actor.

“I think they were looking for an Asian American because they wanted to promote diversity, they wanted to promote inclusion, they wanted to allow Asian Americans to be part of diversity, to have a voice, to have role models,” said Sean, emphasizing the importance of representation. “You’ve got a lot of people who can say, ‘That’s me. I’m part of the Star Wars universe.’”

What also makes Kazuda an intriguing character is the fact that he wasn’t raised on the streets — and he doesn’t come from a desert planet in the middle of nowhere. In fact, Kazuda comes from a wealthy family. That, however, doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It turns out that he has a difficult relationship with his father.

When asked what kind of advice General Leia Organa would theoretically offer his character, especially given the close relationship she had with her father growing up, he said, “Just follow your heart. Do what you believe your heart is driving you to do.”

That’s exactly what Kazuda does when Poe recruits him. “He’s kind of like ‘I feel that this is the right thing to do whether you tell me or not. All of your life experience, that may be right for you and your life, [but] that’s not right for me and my life. So I’m going to follow what my heart tells me to do and that tells me to fight for the Resistance,'” Sean explained.

Spoken like a true rebel.